As a true Kiwi, there are few countries in the world Paul considers on par with or surpassing New Zealand when it comes to natural beauty. Iceland, Norway and Ecuador are strong contenders. And now we’re adding another one: Slovenia. We’d even argue that New Zealand can learn a thing or two from Slovenia when it comes to environmental sustainability.
Most people only make time to visit Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana and nearby Lake Bled. But there is heaps more to see. Our article will talk about the things to see and do in Western Slovenia, beyond the tourist hot spots that Bled and its famous lake have become. But first, let’s have a look what’s so great about Slovenia.
There is heaps more to see in (Western) Slovenia
than touristy Lake Bled
| Photo by David Mark on Pixabay
Three reasons why you should visit Slovenia
- Bordered by Austria to the north, Hungary to the east, Croatia to the south/south-east and Italy plus a slither of the Adriatic to the west, Slovenia is small (only marginally larger than New Jersey) but jam-packed with natural beauty and history.
- The streets are clean, waste is being recycled; the people are friendly, and Slovenian cuisine is mouth-wateringly delicious.
- Slovenia was the first former Yugoslavian country that joined the European Union and adopted the Euro, making travelling from Italy, Austria or any other country using the Euro super easy.
So, if you’re reading this because you’re on the fence whether to visit Slovenia or not: go ahead and book your trip. You won’t regret it.
Quaint little towns and stunning landscapes await those who venture off the beaten path | Photo by E-Klasse2010 on Pixabay
Where to go in Western Slovenia?
Our itinerary starts and ends in Ljubljana and takes you through some of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes we have ever come across on our travels. It allows you to experience (in a sustainable way) the best of both worlds:
- historic Ljubljana, and picturesque, but touristy Lake Bled, as well as
- the towering mountains, dense forests and turquoise rivers of the Julian Alps.
To check out the individual parts of our itinerary click on the tiles below:
While we have created this itinerary to suit a one week holiday, you can, of course, spend (heaps) more than a week exploring Slovenia. Just add more days to the destinations you’d like to see more of (or visit the south and east of the country).
When is the best time to visit (Western) Slovenia?
Our favourite travel seasons are late Spring (May/June) and early Autumn (September/October). It’s the perfect time to explore cities and national parks, with fewer tourists and more pleasant temperatures than in summer (or winter). That said, Slovenia could be visited all year round. It all depends on what you’re after.
How stunning does Šum Waterfall in the Vintgar Gorge look in winter? | Photo on Pixabay
How to get around Western Slovenia?
We usually prefer more sustainable transport options like trains and buses. So, let’s talk about those first.
By public transport
You can do our itinerary by bus. Just be aware though that it’s not the easiest or most practical option (and it is limited to the summer months – more on that below). The two bus companies servicing our suggested route are Arriva and Nomago.
Arriva and Nomago buses depart from Ljubljana
's main bus terminal outside the train station (Ljubljana
For our itinerary around Western Slovenia, we recommend to hire a car. We visited end May/early June, when the buses over Vršič Pass were not yet operational. Our 5 day car hire from/to Ljubljana cost us less than EUR100. We hired our car from local company AvantCar through RentalCars and found the service to be impeccable. They are also conveniently located, only 5 minutes’ walk away from the main bus/train station in Ljubljana.
If you travel with your own or hired car, note that the route 206 over Vršič Pass is closed for about 5 months of the year due to (often heavy) snowfall. Check the traffic informaition portal for updates if in doubt. If route 206 is closed you can still cross the Julian Alps, just not over Vršič Pass but via the SS54/Italy (which is usually open all year).
We hired a car to explore Western Slovenia
(though not an electric one)